Over the last week, I've been tweeting my intentions to buy a scooter. Today, you're looking at a proud owner of a 2007 Yamaha C3 Scooter. The C3 is also known as the VOX in Asia and the Giggle in Europe. With a massive 49cc's of displacement, it's probably weaker than a John Deere ride on mower.
Why a Scooter?
The motivation to buy one didn't come from seeing scooters in Taipei. Far from it. Those people are crazy. It came from me realizing that I refilled my tank for $65.00 in my Subaru Impreza after coming back from Taipei. Gas was around $1.20/L when I left...then shot up to $1.49/L when I came back. The news the other night was also talking about the impact of a $3.00/L gas price with similar stories coming up from the US. As I filled my tank up, I remembered that I used to fill it for less than $50 less than a year ago. What a difference!
Because I work from home, I rarely have to drive anywhere to be honest. My only daily commute is to the depot to pick up parcels. Because of all the stop and go traffic I have to endure, I end up filling up once a week, or at least topping up every Monday for around $30 - 40 on average. Add to that I have to climb out of a hilly area, and my gas mileage is utter shit. To be honest, my only real need for a car is to come out to Richmond for Dot Com Pho because of the distance.
The Short List...
Because I didn't have a Class 6 Motorcycle License, I was limited to the growing 50cc and under range of Scooters. In British Columbia, if you have a full blown Class 5 drivers license, you can buy a scooter and drive it without passing the Motorcycle test. Basically, you're limited to regular road speeds which is about 50-60 km/h.
In this range, there are a number of Scooters available from names like VESPA, Yamaha and Honda, as well as Korean and Chinese brands. I decided to stick with either Honda or Yamaha and ditched VESPA because they tend to be extremely overpriced for the features that you get. However, try to tell that to a VESPA owner. Not to mention, I wanted somewhere to pull my Scooter to locally in case I had any issues and both Yamaha and Honda had service centers very close to where I live.
I narrowed my search to three scooters: Honda Ruckus, Yamaha BWS and Yamaha C3.
The Honda Ruckus
The Honda Ruckus is the burliest of the bunch. It features this post apocalyptic war machine look that is not only unique but extremely customizable. The Ruckus features a 49cc four stroke engine just like the Yamaha C3, but is noticeably slower than the C3 in my test rides. The Ruckus didn't last long in my short list because it wasn't a good bang for the buck. Most dealerships wanted well over three grand with their fees plus taxes. Sure it has lots of modifications available for it because it is an older design, but what bugged me most was the fact that there was no covered area to store your stuff.
The Yamaha BWS (Big Wheel Sport) was probably the one closest to being my pick. Using a two stroke engine, the advantages would be more pep and a more customizations to improve performance. There are also marginally lower costs to maintain because two strokes are so simple. The disadvantages were that the scooter would make more exhaust which isn't great to breathe and lower fuel economy, but not much. The BWS also had a disc front brake while the Ruckus and C3 used drums front and rear. After mulling it over, and although I liked the pep, a combination of a somewhat cramped cockpit and a pricing premium of $488 ($2488 plus dealer fees of $330 plus taxes), but not nearly as bad as the over three grand before taxes and dealership fees that was asked for on the Ruckus, led me to the Yamaha C3.
The Yamaha C3 (aka The VOX (Asia) or Giggle (Europe)
At first, I didn't know what to make of the Yamaha C3. I mean, it didn't look really sporty like the Yamaha BWS, and it didn't look burly like the Ruckus. To me, it looked somewhere in between. However, when it came to utility, the Yamaha C3 had both choices beat. To be honest, the unique styling actually grew on me. I think I like it for the same reason I like wagons vs. sedans.
First of all, the beer cooler looking back end stores a heckuva lot of stuff. Since my main purpose for having this scooter was to replace my car for the trips to pick up the mail and packages, it needed to have storage. There is so much room in here that I can not only throw my helmet and lock in here, but I can also throw my laptop in here along with some take out from Tim Hortons.
Although the engine wasn't as peppy as the Yamaha BWS, it was noticeably quicker than the Honda Ruckus. The Yamaha BWS did seem to take off a bit quicker, but the Yamaha C3 seemed to produce more torque heading up in my quick hill test. Since I live in an area shaped like a bowl, hill climbing is important. The BWS gives up 0.4 ft/lb of torque to the C3, but hey, on a scooter, every little bit counts. The folks at the YAMAHA Canada blog seem to concur with me on this point during their test ride of the C3 in direct comparison with the BWS.
The Yamaha C3 also had the most comfortable seating position. To me, it was basically like sitting on a couch. Not to mention, the C3 had the roomiest cockpit of the bunch, allowing me to stretch out quite comfortably. It was surprising because the Yamaha BWS is a two person scooter and it wasn't nearly as roomy. I sort of describe the BWS seating area as always seeming like you want off the nose. The Ruckus on the other hand felt like you were sitting on a chair and riding on top of the scooter.
Other features that really set the C3 apart from the pack was were the security features that basically say, go steal the Ruckus or the BWS. The C3 features a key hole cover as well as a good steering lock built right in. If you park your scooter right, it's quite difficult to move it once you engage that lock.
Total cost out the door for my 2007 Yamaha C3 was $2608 CAD all in. Insurance and my swank Carbon Fiber Skid Lid were extra. I didn't even look at the price for that lid. I just knew that was the one and it was the most expensive one at $125. D'oh! Insurance ranged anywhere from $220 to $650 but I wanted theft so it cost me $420'ish for the whole year including my new plates and registration. Once you have the plates, you don't pay for that fee again so it will be even cheaper next year.
Yamaha C3 Performance
It's a scooter. You expect performance? Well, to give you a quick preview, heading down to the depot to pick up my mail was pretty uneventful. I could easily make it up to 60KM/h once the sled started to move. The hardest part so far was getting from 0 - 30, 40 comes gradually, then the rest sort of happens. The engine still hasn't broken in yet and based on what I've heard, it seems to get peppier in that range after more miles. I did have to go up my massive hill to get home and unfortunately, it brought the poor C3 down to 15KM/h, but stuck there the whole way up. In my car, I have to drop down to second for this hill. It's not a nice hill. You can bet there will be some mods!
It's too soon to tell on gas mileage, but people have been reporting anywhere between 110 - 130 miles (someone change that to metric please) on one single 4.5 L tank (damn...I mix imperial and metric). That's about $6 bucks a tank. Sure beats a $40 - 65 fill up every week. It's definitely a comfortable ride and the suspension does a pretty wicked job making this thing feel like a couch. Cornering seems sure footed even full throttle through most sweeping turns. But again, this is just a preview. I'm sure I'll have a different opinion once I ride it more and get it out in the wet a little.
Stay tuned for more scooter adventures and don't forget to enter my contest this Canada Day Long Weekend for a chance to win either an iPod nano or the amazing Flip Flap Cybernetic plant! This contest is indeed open to anyone with a mailing address that I can send stuff to so enter today.
Enjoy the Pictures of my New 2007 Yamaha C3 Scooter
I'd like to thank the staff at G.A. Checkpoint Yamaha in Port Moody for taking care of me just like they would take care of any other bike customer...even Scooter Trash like me. Everyone was friendly, down to earth, and professional They really took the time to make sure that I was confident with the purchase and that my questions were answered. I would definitely recommend you check them out if you're looking for a new bike.